Dan. Denethor m. “*Saviour of the Dani”

Dan. Denethor m. “*Saviour of the Dani”

In Silmarillion drafts from the 1930s, the son of Dan and leader of those Danians who entered Beleriand (LR/119, 263). In The Etymologies, Tolkien did not explain this name other than to say it derived from the same root ᴹ√DAN as his father’s name (Ety/DAN). Elsewhere, Tolkien said the primitive form of this name was ᴹ✶Ndanithārō “Saviour of the Dani”, and gave derivatives of this name in every language but Danian (LR/188).

The Danian form most closely resembles Ilk. Denithor, and may have had a similar development. In particular, the long [ā] likely became [ǭ], perhaps shortening later when it became the vowel of the final syllable. The [a] in the first syllable was probably mutated to [e] by the following [i], though it is unclear why the [i] would then become [e]. Finally, the initial [nd] would simplify to [d].

Note that, according to the Comparative Tables (PE19/23), the medial [θ] (“th”) in this name should have voiced to [ð] (“dh”). Perhaps this name was archaic in this one aspect, or perhaps the name was partly Ilkorinized.

References ✧ Ety/DAN; LR/119, 145; LRI/Denilos, Denithor; SMI/Denethor, Denithor



Phonetic Developments

ᴹ√DAN > Denethor [ndanitʰārō] > [ndanitʰǭrō] > [ndaniθǭrō] > [ndeniθǭrō] > [ndeniθǭr] > [deniθǭr] ? [deneθor] ✧ Ety/DAN